Bungie saw Halo Wars as 'whoring out' the franchise - Report

Ensemble Studios founder Tony Goodman claims Bungie never wanted strategy game to be made; project never meant to be a Halo game at all.


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In March 2009, Ensemble Studios shipped the well-received console real-time strategy game Halo Wars, a million-selling project that would stand as the studio's last before being shut down. However, the game was never intended to be a Halo-branded title at all, and Bungie was none too pleased about it even existing, according to comments from Ensemble founder Tony Goodman at Games Industry International.

Halo Wars appears to have a drama-filled real-world backstory.
Halo Wars appears to have a drama-filled real-world backstory.

"Microsoft was pretty risk averse and they said, 'I don't know if we want to take the risk of creating strategy games on a console. We'd feel better if Halo were attached to it.' The difficult part of that was it took the game back about a year in development, and I think it never quite turned out the same," Goodman said. "They just said, 'Why don't you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?' But things aren't quite that simple."

Goodman described Halo Wars as a "really fantastic, under-recognized product," but claimed that Ensemble was not only facing friction from Microsoft, but also Halo creator Bungie Studios. Goodman claims the studio was not happy the Halo brand was being used for a different genre.

"Another problem was that Bungie was never up for it… Bungie was kind of sore about the idea. What they called it was 'the whoring out of our franchise' or something," he said. "Yeah, that didn't create a great relationship between us and Bungie; they viewed us as someone infringing [on their franchise]."

A Bungie representative was not immediately available for comment.

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Avatar image for freedomspopular

In other words: How dare somebody try to be innovative and do something different instead of crapping out the same stuff over and over.

Avatar image for Omally387

Halo Wars is my favorite Halo game

Avatar image for demonic_85

Halo Wars wasnt that bad, now Halo 3: ODST as a full price stand alone game was whoring out the franchise as is continuing the series without Bungie.

Avatar image for larkin-54

@demonic_85 the ODST price tag wasnt up to Bungie they intended it to be 40 bucks

Avatar image for axlroselm

Halo Wars was a good game, It is the best console RTS exclusive i ever played on a console. Also IMHO Halo:Reach is the best Bungie creation plus Halo 1.

Avatar image for bingman5

@axlroselm I haven't played Halo Wars but I agree about Reach. To hear so many people complain about Reach I was surprised. I got Halo 1 on day 1 of the Xbox release (I was 15) and was instantly hooked. And while I enjoyed 2 and 3 and even ODST I didn't put the hours into them like I did 1. Then Reach came along.

Avatar image for Dmg051793

I wonder what the original would have been like. Halo Wars was awful.

Avatar image for crunchb3rry

I can't take this article seriously from a company that doesn't consider books, comics, action figures and pajamas as "whoring out" the franchise.

Avatar image for larkin-54

@crunchb3rry you have to understand that alot of that was microsoft Bungie was owned by MS from halo 1 -3 and then was contracted to make ODST and Reach

Avatar image for nccpeter

Funny...since bungie actually started halo out as an rts.

Avatar image for okassar

I liked Halo Wars and felt it was made with love. I just played the multiplayer and only got through a couple levels of single player (I always do that with RTSs).

ODST was the only unnecessary Halo game in my opinion.

Avatar image for syler4815162342

Bungie People never risks imo cause Halo series since the fist release was pretty same! same guns, Vehicle...Only on Reach i saw some new features which was kinda late! but with new team on Halo 4 we are seeing some really great new things! with Kinect and Move they can make really nice Strategy games i don't get it why they don't!

Avatar image for Pyrosa

Whoring out of the franchise? Sure. But was it a fun game? Hell yes it was. Yeah, it was a simplified RTS, but as far as RTSes on consoles go, this was incredibly fun to play! I actually played through twice.

Avatar image for slotheater

lol halo wars was the best game in the series...

Avatar image for keech

Hah isn't that ironic. Bungie was mad about Microsoft "whoring out" Halo, then they go join up with Activision. A company well known for handing It's IP's to other developers so they can churn out an iteration every year, milking it to death.

Bungie better get used to the franchises they make getting handed to other devs.

Avatar image for larkin-54

@keech Wont happen Bungie owns the rights to its new IP

Avatar image for Ultra_Taco

I didn't think Halo Wars was that bad in terms of gameplay, but I thought the story was definitely one of its weak points.

Avatar image for Derrick79

Wow Bungie Halo wars was Whoring out the name? Not Halo 3 ODST, Reach ????

Bleh whats with all the devs coming out pissing and moaning.. They are not complaining when the money comes in from sales on said game that is whoring out the name....

Avatar image for DFalcon999

They don't have any right to complain about brand integrity after the "ha-ha, buy #3" ending of Halo 2

Cliffhanger endings only work if

A: The sequel comes soon

B: There's enough proper resolution of significant subplots

C: Both.

Halo 2 did neither. Almost nothing was resolved and in fact, more questions were put up at the end than the game started with. And we had to wait until a new CONSOLE before 3.

I enjoy the Halo series, but I will point out it's faults as well as Bungie's.

Avatar image for JesperJotun

@DFalcon999 I give you "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" as a foil to this logic.

Avatar image for DFalcon999

For that to be valid, Empire would have to have ended with "Hurry, we're trying to save Han from the Bounty Hunter!" and "But you are not a Jedi yet..." with no no conclusion to either of those events. @JesperJotun

Avatar image for tommynj

I think Halo Wars was pretty decent but not good enough. I tried it but after a week or so I traded it in.

Avatar image for TimboII

I guess I'm one of the black sheep who actually enjoyed Halo Wars. Sure it was a stripped down strategy game and being able to play as covenant in multiplayer but giving them no single play campaign was a bad choice but I still had fun in the initial playthrough. I always thought Halo had a good universe for a strategy game...hopefully a better one will come someday. Blizzard want to take a crack at it maybe...?

Avatar image for SolidTy

"Microsoft was pretty risk averse and they said, 'I don't know if we want to take the risk of creating strategy games on a console. We'd feel better if Halo were attached to it.' The difficult part of that was it took the game back about a year in development, and I think it never quite turned out the same," Goodman said. "They just said, 'Why don't you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?'"


M$ has these f***ing execs and suits in charge now, they need a true creative visionary like they had when the Xbox came out.

Where are Ensemble Now? Gone. Dead. One of the many talented 1st party studios that got closed off this generation. Lucky survivors include RARE who now are Kinect only, Turn 10, Bungie who abandoned ship, and a few others.

Avatar image for Kravyn81

Ensemble was a great company. I don't blame Bungie for feeling the way they do since Halo Wars was an unnecessary game on every level.

Avatar image for kiramasaki

Yea I think the honor of whoring the franchise goes to ODST.

Avatar image for MJ12-Conspiracy

Personally I wasn't a big fan of Halo Wars. I like Halo but the strategy game wasn't a very good strategy game. It had no flexibility, you had to build your bases a certain way and in certain locations and the way you controlled units should have made it easier but it made it more difficult, If Halo Wars was a PC game it would have been better just because you'd have macros for your squads so you wouldn't have to throw everything at your enemies in one strike......

To me the strategy game that nailed it on consoles was Civ Rev....it just felt good and right and the fact it was turn based made a difference.

Avatar image for green_scorpion

Gamespot must be getting paid to do all these Halo-related not newsworthy stories.

Avatar image for ender707

Good game, had fun playing the campaign and skirmish modes in co-op. Was not really deep enough to keep me interested long term, but it did get me playing the first RTS game I had touched since the original C&C, on a console no less.

Kinda sucks to hear Bungie's attitude about it was poor. What would the game have been like with their full support of the project? Could it have realized their original vision of the halo franchise as an RTS? We will never know.

Avatar image for E-i-N-e

Though I enjoyed Halo Wars, it has its moments, I agree it did feel like an odd combination. Never, never, never put a real time strategy game on a console, they're always reserved for the PC. I was hoping they would release it for the PC, it would have had a lot more potential if they did so and allowed mod support, it would have been nice to see what people could have made with it.

Avatar image for mtait01

I actually preferred Halo Wars to Halo 3 ODST XD

Avatar image for hampton2003

halo was initially a rts in development, before becoming a fps. i think they were more pissed that someone else was just..... taking their "baby"

Avatar image for middleman102002

@hampton2003 you are right sir and 2 comments below i referenced video evidence

Avatar image for maximumbarmage

Considering Bungie were never allowed to make anything but Halo under Microsoft and Lionhead aren't allowed to make anything but Fable, this isn't much of a surprise.

Microsoft are creatively bankrupt in the sheer monotony of their first party output.

Avatar image for Serpentes420

@maximumbarmage Agreed, I don't think anyone buys an XBOX360 for the exclusive titles. Sony and Nintendo both have MS beat in that category IMO. And Sony is smart, they didn't force Insomniac to just do Ratchet & Clank, or Naughty Dog to just do Uncharted. And I am not a fanboy for any system I have all 3 plus a PC to game on.

Avatar image for middleman102002

i find this article very ammusing i guess bungie forgot there roots halo was developed along time ago as an RTS before the xbox it was meant to be on Mac as a RTS now there saying it got whored out WTF Bungie i love you guys but come on you wanted to make halo an rts in the first place

Avatar image for Kungfu_Kenobi

@middleman102002 Came here to mention this. I still remember the outrage when Halo went FPS.

Avatar image for middleman102002

just because i know im gonna get flamed here you go halo fanboys your FPS before Xbox and before it was an FPS i think they actually where going 3rd person but look for yourselfs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN9vO_gRzoI

Avatar image for middleman102002

what is up with the terrible reporting on gamespot i mean come on 5 minutes and google and ive aquired more facts than this article give do they write this shit on an iphone

Avatar image for Senor_Kami

I've got a friend who plays this and Starcraft 2 for like 6-10 hours every week. As long as the whores are good, clean, and putting out without any fuss, let'em do what they do. Everyone wins except the hater in the corner mad, but that person hates winning anyways.

Avatar image for Enterprise-E

I actually enjoyied Halo Wars. Even though it was an very simple RTS but the control of it was actually pretty good. Shame it never came out on the PC because I know alot of RTS fans would have picked this up just because it was a new RTS game.

Avatar image for cds325

oh halo wars... your such a dirty wh***

Avatar image for Serpentes420

I've had Halo Wars at the ass end of my gamefly queue forever, based on the commentors below it seems like I should move it up and give it a try...or just spend $10 for it

Avatar image for phenom23454

@Serpentes420 great game, a bit simple but great never the less

Avatar image for LOWJ000

I don't think MS was quite whoring out the franchise with the Halo Wars gig. I think it was more akin to pole dancing!

Avatar image for PixelAddict

@Suikogaiden Yeah, every Super Mario Bros after the first was a total milk-a-thon.

How dare they.

Avatar image for mrcharrio

Halo Wars has some of the Best CG animation in it's story scenes. I liked the game but the animation was what made me play. If they could make an actual movie for Halo with that graphics engine they used for the cut scenes i would be camping in line.

Avatar image for ArabrockermanX

Of course it was "whoring." I said that when it was new MS just slapped the Halo name on it to get a bunch of fanboys on board that would normally have no interest in such a game.

Nothing against the game but it is just like when Nintendo slaps Mario on everything...

Avatar image for cjf187x

@ArabrockermanX There is/was a reason for that...Nintendo made most of its own games and there were no 3rd party developers. So of course they are going to slap Mario, Zelda, Link, Kirby and/or Metroid on any product they make because they make money off those particular IPs.